the language of blogging

When I moved to Paris almost 18 months ago, I knew barely a soul. My one Parisian friend was living her own story in Tel Aviv and all forms of human comfort aside from my Italian, were back in NYC. I soon met a few ‘friends of friends’ and very slowly began building a social network. Feeling the need to reach out into the world, as I had done during my travels, I started a blog. Also simply because my story of love in Paris was too unique and beautiful not to share. And, I love to write.

What would I gain from this experience of blogging? More than I had anticipated. Not only am I able to share pieces of my life from across the sea, and in so doing keep in touch with family and friends from home, in the shared language of blogging, I have met many new ones. I must add that Twitter has had a lot to do with it!

In the very early days of my Paris blog it was a woman named Andi Fisher who first reached out and somehow I felt less lonely in this quest for a new life. Since then I have come to know Andi through her misadventures, one of them taking her to Paris last October where I had the pleasure, along with many fellow Paris bloggers, to meet in person. It was an honor! (And yes, Paris bloggers rule!)

I had a chance to speak with Andi about her life and experience of blogging… and she had a lot to say! I consider Andi a mentor when it comes to social media and blogging. Soon I will share her insights.

Since that meeting I have gotten to know many of these soulful and charismatic bloggers on a deeper level as we share the experience of Paris through our online journals. These ‘tweet-ups’ as they have come to be known, provide a forum in which to share frustrations and celebrations, find support and simply enjoy the company of others living what can often but not always be called the Paris dream.

Via our shared language, I feel more at home and have a deeper awareness of Paris and it’s people, than I had imagined I could in so short a time. Here are a few of the many faces from Sunday’s much anticipated ‘tweet-up’, organized by Priscilla of Weekend in Paris, who was doing just that…

Melissa of Prête Moi Paris, Beth Arnold of Letter to Paris and Lily of Context Paris

Bellanda of Bellanda’s Creations, Karen of Bonjour Paris and Monique of Entrée to Black Paris

Shannon of Je Ne Sais Quoi Blog and Forest of 52 Martinis

Opal of  Opal Blossoms, Sion of Paris (Im)perfect and Milla of Not Just Another Milla

Me, one of my Paris Collection bags, Bellanda and Priscilla of Weekend in Paris

Who have I missed? Until we meet again, may we continue to share the language of blogging…

The Dream Life of Amy Thomas

I liked Amy Thomas the moment I met her. Not simply because she arrived to Paris from NY (though us New Yorker’s do tend to stick together). Perhaps we bonded due to our careers in advertising or passion for writing. No. Amy is a dreamer. A romantic. A thinker. Above all, a lover of all things sweet, as she has so appropriately coined herself Sweet Freak. In her blog God, I love Paris Amy shares her nearly two-year long love affair with Paris, where she has always dreamed to live. But some romances are not meant to last. I will allow Amy to explain, in the name of love.

Can one question change your life?

I’m willing to bet a 25-piece box of Jean-Paul Hevin bonbons on it.

In 2008, I was sitting in my office, living what I considered to be a pretty dreamy life. I was single, owned my own place in the East Village, and was braving New York’s dating world. I had a great group of friends, and I liked my job as an advertising copywriter. But I loved my moonlighting dalliances even more: exploring and writing about sweets. Life was good: easy, fun, comfortable. Then my ad agency’s in-house recruiter walked into my office and nonchalantly asked:

What do you think about Paris?

Let me just pause and say—I am obsessed with Paris. Almost as obsessed as I am with sweets. So when the recruiter revealed that the Paris office of my international agency was looking for an English-speaking writer to work on the Louis Vuitton account, my first question was how soon could I leave? Of course I wanted to go live in Paris and work with one of the best fashion houses in the world. What Louboutin loving, Coco worshipping, macaron addict wouldn’t?

The only thing holding me back from the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) was several months of bureaucracy. Five long months of waiting, the papers were finally in place (a little preview to the pace of life in Paris). I packed my laptop, clothes and black tabby cat, and then gulped, vigorously nodding my head as my doorman reminded me on the way out, “It’s like business and pleasure. You’re getting paid to do what you love.” Indeed, I was off to live my dream.

And a dream it’s been. Especially the first six months. Having arrived in early March, each new day was a little bit longer and brighter. Spring turned into summer—a beautiful and balmy season when the sun didn’t set until 10 p.m. I became an instant Velib addict, to say nothing of the sweets. I cruised from Les Petits Mitrons in the 18eme to Du Pain et des Idées in the 10eme. From Blé Sucré in the 12eme to Pain du Sucré in the 4eme. From Michel Chaudun to Michel Cluizel; from Ladurée to Pierre Hermé; Les Deux Abeilles, Stohrer, Le Patisserie de Reves… there was to be no viennoiserie, gateau or bonbon unsampled by me. After all, I told myself, biking from sweet spot to sweet spot, this was a great way to get to know my new hometown. Which was true. But as familiar as I became with each arrondissement’s best patisseries and chocolatiers, and their closest Velib stations, many of the city’s customs, codes of conduct and unspoken rules were still foreign to me.

And then the inevitable happened. After a prolonged honeymoon phase, I crashed. Hard. Summer had turned into fall, which turned into a long, dark winter. My beautiful city was suddenly cold and alienating. Not being able to communicate with the postmaster or dry cleaner was no longer a challenge that I approached as sort of fun and charming, but, rather, left me feeling totally defeated. Which just made me miss my friends, family and comfortable, easy life back in New York.

But I plodded on. With work (pulling longer hours than I ever did in New York). With French lessons (often swallowing cries of frustration when I couldn’t wrap my tongue around those R’s). With making friends (though this—gasp!—entailed befriending almost exclusively other expats as I couldn’t get a proper Parisian to give me the time of day). I willed myself to be tough. To stay strong. To smile, even if it made me look like an American dork. But mostly I lamented my lost love. I just wanted to feel moved by Paris the way I once had.

In hindsight, I know it was a perfectly natural cycle. Even the best affairs cool down at some point. After that initial head-over-heels infatuation, the ho-hum reality sets in and the daily grind is no longer sexy or romantic. Even in Paris. So after a season of sulking and consoling myself with a ridiculous amount of bonbons, I reset my expectations for a more “real” relationship with the city.

And now, the love affair continues. I cram my days with observing and writing, eating and drinking, Velib’ing and, toujours, ogling and sampling the sweets. And I have wonderful friends to share the meals, wine, stories and moments with. I’m a happy, lucky girl and I love every day that I’m here.

Because… all good things must come to a close. As mad as I am for Paris, I’m returning to my first love. New York is calling my name. It’s not been an easy decision, but I know it’s time to go home. And instead of looking at Paris or New York as an “either/or” option, I see it as “both”. Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too.

Paris will dearly miss Amy and her ‘joie de vivre‘, even the vélibs will feel the loss. Not to mention the pâtisseries! But her sweet life continues in New York. And lucky us to be able to read all about it in her upcoming book to be released in March 2012, a merging of God, I love Paris and Sweet Freak. Sounds like an ideal union to me!

sharing the bag love

It’s been 17 days since I launched my new handbag business. I hadn’t planned on writing a post about it, but with so much attention, interest and orders from around the world, I simply can’t resist. Mostly, to thank everyone for all the love and support. Where to begin?

I was honored to be interviewed by friend and fellow expat Lindsey Tramuta of Lost in Cheeseland who writes a weekly column for BitchBuzz, a highly reputed women’s lifestyle site. It’s interesting (and challenging) to delve into your own mind and find out exactly what makes you tick, and in my case, design. Here’s our Q&A: from NY to Paris, also featured on her blog!

Nirit Sumeruk writes a very fashion forward blogazine Paris Popcorn featuring new and emerging trends, my handbags being one of them! She is particularly fond of the Paris Collection and asks the eminent question of anyone living in Paris: are you Rive Gauche or Rive Droite?

Speaking of Downtown/Rive Droite gals, friend and fellow NYer/Parisian (you can surely claim to be both, can’t you?), Amy Thomas of God, I love Paris, has chosen her favorite side, and bag.

My Francophile friend and blogger Andi Fisher of Misadventures with Andi generously included my ‘I heart Paris‘ hand-printed bag in the grand finale of her 12 days of Christmas giveaway. (You still have time to enter, winner will be randomly chosen at midnight PST on December 19th!) It’s also great to know which bags are favorites from both old and new collections!

Little did I know who else was sharing the love. Maggie Battista, part of the lovely HiP Paris blog, is coveting one of my bags on her ‘wish list‘ (perhaps her husband will get the subtle hint?)

I’m very proud to be a featured designer on Swelle Boutique, a showcase of clothing & accessories that bring the dreamy and romantic into our daily lives in tangible, wearable form. How fitting!

Please let me know if I am missing anyone, as I would like to offer personal gratitude.

Stay tuned via my Facebook Fan Page and twitter @kasiainparis (and for special bag promos @kasiadietzbags) for a lot more news and bag love in 2011!

reason to celebrate

Is there ever not a reason to celebrate? These days, learning to conjugate an irregular verb is reason enough. Life is so much about the small victories, and those occur daily. If we pay attention to them.

At present we have even more reason to celebrate than my pending fluency in French. My Italian has officially become French. In regards to his working status that is. (Once an Italian always an Italian!)

My arrival to Paris contained only one certainty. The who (I had chosen to share my life with), not the what (I would do) and where (we would live). Though we both had hoped Paris would become our home. Over time (I won’t get into just how long this process took), my Italian pursued this option, since I was (mostly) happy in Paris and he loved the city from day one. If all went accordingly, we would not be packing our bags to move to Milan for January 1st. Love in the City of Fashion?

And here we are. 18 months into our love story, and 6 months away from our wedding, finally calling Paris our home. Though we do have moments in which we desire to run off to Vietnam for a 2 year stint, or perhaps a Greek island in the Cyclades. Even Rome sounds like an adventure. Oh, the possibilities! And yes, there are many. But for the unforeseeable future, this will remain our vista.

As we do every evening in French tradition, raise a glass and celebrate! What are you celebrating?

encore!

Upon returning to Paris I met Bartosz who had come from London for a brief encounter with this city and the places that had become so familiar to me in this, the French chapter of my journey. We spent the weekend walking from the Louvre and it’s collections to Montmartre with it’s views…



A Sunday stroll in the Marais, a last glass of wine with friends and it was time to part with Paris.